Open Menu

Social Security Disability Claims Law

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation
Portland: 503-222-1420
Vancouver: 360-524-4934
Toll Free: 800-434-6117
About Our Firm Learn More About Us

Experience and Knowledge Winning Social Security Disability Claims is Our Business

Open: Practice Areas

Vancouver Washington Social Security Disability Law Blog

Does the SSA view Fibromyalgia as a basis for SSDI benefits?

Fibromyalgia (FM) can be a terrible disease. It can strip the sufferer of their energy and leave them permanently exhausted, even after a full night's sleep, making them depressed and anxious, with chronic, widespread pain that seems to emanate from everywhere, yet nowhere in particular.

They have difficulty making up a few steps and in this condition, they have to mount a compelling case to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in order to obtain disability benefits. No wonder they are depressed.

SSDI solutions really are not very difficult

What is really remarkable when it comes to all of the fevered discussions over Social Security and what can be done to "save" the program, is how little actually needs to be done. Congress is likely to undergo a prolonged period of wailing and gnashing of teeth concerning how to solve the expected shortfall in the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program when the trust fund that covers part of the cost of SSDI is exhausted in the next few years.

Congress could go in and make real modifications to the funding formula and the tax rates that pay for both the retirement program, technically known as Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and the SSDI program. They both receive their funding from the payroll tax, or FICA tax, that you see deducted on your paycheck.

Chance disabilities, chance meetings

No one chooses to become disabled. And few, it seems, plan for it. How many people do you know fund their own long-term disability insurance program? Even a well-featured policy may provide a significant reduction in your living standard. Nonetheless, people become disabled, planned or not.

This example comes from across the country, in Maine, but there are many similar cases involving residents in Vancouver, Portland and across Washington and Oregon. In this case, a couple happened to meet in a park, as the man was interested in getting a dog, and the woman had two dogs with her.

They hit it off and in six months were married. They shared something else. They were both disabled. They had suffered physical disabilities in the prime of their working years and were laid low by unexpectecd diseases. She had suffered multiple sclerosis at age 42, and he had suffered a stroke at 47. 

The SSA decides disability status

Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) is often misunderstood. Some believe it is similar to unemployment insurance and that if you are out of work, you can just apply and receive benefits. Others believe they can go and see a doctor, and the doctor will determine they are disabled and they can then send that information to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to obtain their SSDI benefits.

Both of those understandings are incorrect. It is always the SSA that determines whether an applicant meets the requirements of the statutory definition of disability. But, and this is very important, the SSA uses your medical records and documentation to arrive at that determination.

Opioid use by SSDI beneficiaries seen as troubling by doctors

As the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program has grown, the claims stemming from musculoskeletal and related connective tissue diseases have increased. These medical conditions include such things as back pain, osteoporosis and arthritis.

This is not surprising. Today there is a large cohort of aging workers who have been employed in jobs place a great strain on their back, whether in construction, landscaping, healthcare aides or warehouses. This type of work can cause incremental damage to a back, eventually leaving the worker with musculoskeletal impairments and chronic back pain.

SSDI program helps eliminate fraud from program

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a large, complex program that provides benefit payments to disabled workers. Over the last 40 years, Congress has expanded the numbers and types of medical conditions that create eligibility for the program.

In addition, with the aging of the baby boom generation and the entry of increasing numbers of women into the workforce, the program has grown.

Congress has always been more generous with offering benefits than it has been at creating funding mechanisms. Concerns have existed for virtually that entire period, and Congress, for the most part, has ignored the problem.

OIG finds SSDI applications often missing documents

When you apply for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits, you have to complete the application form that requires information regarding your work history, education and training, and the medical condition or conditions that are causing your disability.

While it sounds reasonably straightforward, the type of medical issues can add complexity. If you are applying for disability benefits based on an illness or medical condition, like lung cancer or heart diseases, you may have a few very explicit documents that provide clear medical evidence of your condition and allow a rapid approval of your claim.

For SSDI, Congress is running out of time

The latest report from the trustees of the Social Security system continues to be troubling. But that is not a surprise. The report indicates that the trust fund that supplies the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program with part of its revenue, will be exhausted by sometime in 2016. The consequences of this event will be very damaging to many of the current beneficiaries of the SSDI program.

SSDI is funded by two revenue streams. The trust fund provides about 19 percent of the current benefit payments, while the remainder is covered by the payroll tax collections every month. With the exhaustion of the trust fund, the Social Security Administration (SSA) would need to cut the benefit payment by 19 percent.

Why the SSDI program is important

No one ever begins their morning and thinks, "Gee, today would be a great day to become disabled and need Social Security disability insurance benefits (SSDI)." And at one level, that is the great thing about SSDI. You don't have to worry about signing up or paying premiums, ensuring that you don't miss a payment and have your coverage lapse.

If you have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security, you are automatically covered by the SSDI program. Which is a good thing, because you could wake up one morning like a man did in Salem, Oregon. He found he could not move his legs. 

Computer system to speed up SSDI process still not ready

Delays are the unfortunate norm for many people who have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, or have appealed a rejected application. An initial SSDI application takes an average of more than 100 days to process. SSDI appeals take even longer, with an average of more than 400 days before it is resolved.

Obviously, any upgrades to the Social Security Administration’s system for processing claims and appeals would be welcomed -- if those upgrades are successful.

Tucker & Boklage, Attorneys at Law

Office Location:

Tucker & Boklage, PLLC
Attorneys at Law

Phone: 360-524-4934
Toll-free: 800-434-6117
Fax: 360-260-2568

Maps & Directions

203 SE Park Plaza Drive, Suite 220
Vancouver, WA 98684